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Machshavot HaRav: Reflections from Rabbi Waxman


Esther’s Successor: Golda Meir


I call to mind on this day of Purim, when we celebrate Queen Esther and her cleverness in trapping Haman, the fact that 50 years ago on March 17th, aka St. Patrick’s Day, Golda Meir became Israel’s first and, so far, only woman Prime Minister. Born in Kiev in 1898, she migrated to the United States with her family as a child in 1906, grew up in Milwaukee, trained as a teacher, but moved to Palestine with her husband in 1921, where she became a force within the Labor Party. In 1948, she was sent to Moscow to serve as Israel’s Minister Plenipotentiary. Attending services for the High Holy Days, she was mobbed by Soviet Jews. (This outbreak of Zionist fervor was not looked upon kindly by Stalin.) On her return to Israel, she was elected to the Knesset and served as Labor Minister for 7 years. In 1956 she began service as Foreign Minister, a position she maintained until early 1966. Brought out of the back benches, she was designated as Prime Minister in 1969 when Levi Eshkol died. She served as PM through the Yom Kippur War. Despite Israel’s ultimate victory, the initial failures and heavy casualties were placed on her doorstep—among others—and she resigned in the spring of 1974.


Golda was been portrayed in film and on the stage by a variety of actresses among them, Anne Bancroft who played her in a stage production entitled “Golda” back in 1977 and more recently Tovah Feldshuh who assumed the role in “Golda’s Balcony” in 2003. She has had her biography written multiple times, including most recently by Francine Klagsbrun (Who will be one of the presenters at the Jewish University for a Day, and will be speaking about Golda.).


Golda Meir and Queen Esther represent two examples of Jewish feminine power. Whereas the latter used her beauty and guile to achieve her aims—the preservation of the Jewish people--, Golda Meir—not such a beauty-- used her determination in her various capacities, to shape, promote and protect Israel. Golda Meir was pugnacious.


On a day in which we celebrate women—there are some who view Vashti as the first feminist--, it is well to remember the heroines of our age. And we could do worse than reflect on the life of Golda Meir.


Happy Purim and Shabbat Shalom.



Our Purim at the Parsonage


At our Purim celebration, we had some attendees in costume. Afterward, the Rabbi served some Purim delicacies as well as wine after the service.





Chadashot MeYisrael: News From Israel


New Approach for Producing Immunotherapy


A promising new approach for the treatment of cancer is CAR-T cell therapy, an immunotherapy developed at the Weizmann Institute. The process uses genetically modified T cells from the patient, which can then hunt down and kill cancer cells. Until now the creation of these T–cells required the construction of a multi-million-dollar clean room in which to produce the modified cells.


Now, Sheba Medical Center at Tel HaShomer Hospital in Ramat Gan in collaboration with the Swiss Lonza Group is testing a new approach to create these Car-T cells. Called the “Cocoon”, the process is an automated cell therapy manufacturing system in which disposable cassettes do all of the operations needed to manufacture the CAR-T cells. Because it is a closed system, the platform not only allows for greater control over the production and increases the yields, but because these are a series of individuals pods, each unit can contain a small bioreactor and in effect become a small clean room in which the cells can be grown to produce the required drug for each patient separately.


As Professor Dror Harats, the deputy director for research and development a director of clinical trials at Sheba Medical, noted that whereas in the past his hospital has treated some 80 patients with CAR-T cells, because of the current process, they could only treat 4 patients a month. The Cocoon process will enable the hospital to grow cell therapy for 2 dozen or more patients simultaneously.


Sheba and Lonza will now work together to test and refine the system. If successful, the hospital plans on clinical trials to prove the safety and effectiveness of the new technology, which “will open a new opportunity for many therapies.”  Initially the Cocoon will be tested for leukemia and lymphoma therapies, but if successful, Harats noted that “it should work on many other different cell therapies.”






Payrush LaParshahah:

A Comment on the Weekly Torah Portion

The portion of Tsav (Leviticus 8:1-36) is read this Saturday, March 23rd.

8:31 Moses said to Aaron and his sons: Boil the flesh at the entrance of the Tent of Meeting and eat it there with the bread that is in the basket of ordination—as I commanded: Aaron and his sons shall eat it; (32) and what is left over of the flesh and the bread you shall consume in fire. (33) You shall not go outside the entrance of the Tent of Meeting for seven days, until the day your period of ordination is completed. For your ordination will require seven days.

8:31-33…The identification of the speaker is problematic in these verses. In verse 31 the words “as I commanded” seem to be spoken by Moses but fit YHWH better, even though Moses does command in 9:5, 21 and 10:18. That this is a problem can be seen from a footnote in the NJPS (New Jewish Publication Society [the current translation]) which suggests reading suwweti “I was commanded,” which is the reading adopted by the NRSV (New Revised Standard Version [a Christian translation which appeared in 1989]). The difficulty continues in verses 32-33 where the words are again attributed to Moses but fit divine speech better. The NRSV’s “it will take seven days to ordain you” masks a difficulty in identifying the subject of y’malle’ ‘et-yedkem, which literally means “he will fill your hands.” Is there a deliberate melding of YHWH’s and Moses’ speech? (Stephen K. Sherwood, Berit Olam, Studies in Hebrew Narrative & Poetry: Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy. Sherwood, C.M.F. [Congregatio Missionariorum Filiorum] became a Claretian missionary in 1962 and was ordained in 1971. He studied philosophy at Loyola University of Los Angeles, theology at the Catholic University of America, and Sacred Scripture at the Pontifical Biblical Institute and the Gregorian University in Rome, earning, his S.T. D. degree [Doctor of Sacred Theology]. He taught at Bigard Memorial Seminary, Enugu, Nigeria, and for the past decades has been a member of the faculty at the Oblate School of Theology in San Antonio.)

Mon, March 25 2019 18 Adar II 5779